Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Recovering

I am now 19 days out from surgery. I thought I would share how it went.

Wednesday Oct. 26th. Archie and I dropped our boys off at church and drove up to Atlanta to stay with cousins. We arrived right at 11 pm.

Thursday Oct. 27th. We decided to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the Center for Endometriosis Care. It was only 30 miles from where we were staying but traffic that time of morning in the big city is crazy! It took us nearly 2 hours to get there. We arrived just a few minutes before my appointment time. I couldn't believe I was actually there! I learned about the CEC years ago and always hoped some day I would be able to get treatment there. Their Doctors have fantastic reputations for removing endometriosis, thus providing long term pain relief from this disease.

The nurse, staff, and doctor were all very kind. Everything was explained about the surgery. Adenomyosis was also suspected (causing a very painful uterus), so we decided to do a hysterectomy as well as excision of endometriosis. It was a big decision, and not one we took lightly, I did a lot of research and prayed about it beforehand.

After my appointment Archie and I did a little shopping, we got a few soft foods for me to eat after surgery, then we went back to where we were staying and I had to do a "bowel prep". It was not fun, I was not allowed to eat anything after breakfast and the prep made me nauseated. I spent the day between the toilet and bed.

Friday Oct. 28th. We got up early and headed to the hospital at about 4:30. This time it only took us just over half an hour to get there. We walked into the hospital about 5:15 am and registered. Right at 5:30 I was escorted into the surgical prep area. Archie had to wait in the waiting room but I was able to bring Sammy in with me. Sammy was one of Silas' sea turtles, his first big on that he received for his 4th birthday from Grandpa and Grandma. He took it in to all but his first surgeries. I didn't know if they would really let me keep Sammy with me, but I was going to give it a try. My PTSD was getting stirred up being in a hospital. Going through all of Silas' cancer treatments, spending so much time in hospitals, and having to say goodbye to him, have all left a lot of painful memories.

I changed into a hospital gown, they put in an IV and drew blood. They gave me a pill to swallow and then gave me some "happy juice", just like Silas received on many occasions. Archie was allowed to come in and spend a few minutes with me before they wheeled me back to the OR. He prayed for me and gave me a kiss and went back out to the waiting area. When I arrived in the OR the Doctor and Surgical assistant grabbed my hands and the Surgeon prayed for me, he prayed that he would do a good job and that I would be pain free in the future. I scooted onto the surgery table and then I went to sleep.

The surgery lasted about 5 hours, just a little longer than the estimated 4. I was in the recovery area for a while. I was in pain and disoriented. I asked the nurse if they found endometriosis during the surgery (it cannot be seen on any scans or tests so the only way they can know if it is there is to look inside), she said yes and I started to cry. All of these years of pain and it was finally confirmed what I had believed for years. I say I started to cry, I quickly stopped myself because it hurt too much. I remember talking about Silas a lot. Sammy was still with me. I don't remember what all I said. After a while they moved me to a room and Archie was allowed to join me. I don't remember a lot. Later that evening I was up and walking. I was still using a pain pump and they gave me some pills as well. I think I slept pretty well, the meds made me sleepy.

Saturday Oct. 29th. About 7:30 in the morning the Surgeon came in to see me. He went over my surgical photos with me and explained that in addition to what we thought was wrong, he also found a lot of adhesions, some from my gallbladder surgery. He removed those as well as my appendix. I finally had stage II endometriosis confirmed! Stage II is the most common stage to be discovered. He was happy with my progress and released me to leave the hospital. Archie and I pretty quickly got ready and headed back to his cousin's house. The drive was somewhat painful, I had 3 small incisions in my belly and was wearing a "belly binder" for support. I was told to start my medicine routine as soon as we got to where we were going. I did, pain meds every 3 hours around the clock. This was not pleasant, I hate meds. I hate having to eat to take them. But I was in pain. For the next few days we ate, slept, watched movies, and slept. I don't remember a lot of it due to the meds.

Tuesday November 1. We got up late in the morning and packed up, well, Archie packed up. We headed out to my 3 pm follow up visit at the CEC. The surgeon again explained my surgical pics to me and answered a couple of questions. They were impressed with my progress and suggested cutting back on the meds. Which I planned to do as soon as we made it home. I didn't think I could make such a long drive without them. We left and headed home, stopping every hour to walk around and stopping to eat. It seemed like it took forever but we made it home about 10 pm. The  boys were home waiting for us.

Over the next couple of weeks I have gotten stronger and had less pain but it is still early in the recovery process, they said to expect 8-9 weeks. I was warned not to over-do it and to get plenty of rest in the coming days. I haven't taken any pain meds in a few days. I no longer wake up in the middle of the night with outrageous cramping! While I am still tender and tired, I am making progress and am hopeful that in time I will be strong, healthy, and finally pain free!

God is amazing! I know that He was in this, and I am so thankful. In my life Lord, be glorified!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

God is so good!!!

God is so good, God You're so good to me!

I don't know why I bother worrying. I am learning not to! God takes care of everything. He provides, He cares, He loves us so much! He so often shows up in unexpected ways bringing unexpected blessings.

My surgery is actually happening a week from tomorrow! The Lord has made provision for this to happen and I am so very thankful to Him!

The boys will be taken care of while Archie and I are away, the bills are provided for, we have a place to stay in Atlanta, and Archie has the time off of work!

Yes, I know, I am using a lot of exclamation marks, but I am feeling so incredibly blessed and I hope that comes across in this post. I want everyone to know that the God of the Universe is awesome, all powerful, amazing, AND He loves us! He loves you!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.


Monday, October 10, 2016

How you can help

Many of my friends and family have asked how they can help as I prepare for surgery on Oct. 28th. I have had kind of a hard time asking for help. I feel very awkward about it. I am always telling other people to ask for what they need, to let people know what they need, and I think I need to do the same. So here goes...

1. Prayer. I need this more than anything else! The Lord knows all of my needs and He has the power and resources to meet every one of them. My specific prayer requests are as follows...
       ~That I will not need a bowel resection. (it is a possibility)
       ~That the surgery will go smoothly and the Doctor will be able to remove everything that shouldn't be in there.
       ~That I will be a witness to the Doctors, Nurses, and other staff that I come in contact with.
       ~That my boys would be well and well behaved as they stay with others during my time away.
       ~For safe travel to and from Atlanta.
       ~That I will stay free of colds and flu as I await surgery and during the recovery.
       ~For Archie and I to be able to navigate all of the fees, insurance, paperwork, etc.
       ~That the Lord will provide financially for the portion of the bill that falls on us.
       ~For quick healing and recovery after surgery

2. I still need a place for the boys to stay for a couple of the days that Archie and I will be in Atlanta. I have a couple of people who have offered, but am still working out the details. (Please pray that it will work out smoothly).

3. Since this is happening a lot faster and a lot sooner than expected we are not prepared to cover the deductible and up front fees. We have made the down payment to hold my surgery date, but we will need the rest of the deductible by the surgery date. Please do not feel obligated, but if you feel led to make a donation, my sister-in-law has graciously set up a page to accept donations. You can find that page here. If you choose to make a donation via paypal you can choose the friends and family option to avoid fees. If you would like to make a donation some other way, please let Archie or I know.

The Lord has already provided in so many ways. I went years without health insurance, and now we have it! We are so blessed to live near such a highly skilled Doctor who specializes in the kind of surgery that I need. Many of my friends prayed that I would have an earlier surgery date when I was originally told I wouldn't be able to have surgery until December or January, and it happened! October 28th is less than 3 weeks away now. I can see the Lord's hand in this, I know He will provide for all of these needs and I am trusting in Him. May He be glorified in my life.

God bless you!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

From worry to worship

I saw a quote on facebook that was something about turning our worry into worship. It got me thinking.

I have always struggled with worry. I have memorized scriptures on the subject, prayed and prayed to be delivered of worry, and overtime, I think I have made some progress toward learning not to worry. Lately, I have had a lot to bring me to worry.

One of the things I have struggled with is how to stop worrying. I know that I should, but I have never quite grasp the how. When I read this quote the other day it got me thinking, perhaps the worry needs to be replaced with something good. The solution to giving up many bad habits is to replace them with good habits. Could this be the same with my worries?

Philippians 4:8 says Finally, brethren, whatever things true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.

This is one of those key "don't worry" verses, and I have known it for a long time, but it is only recently that it has really had the impact I think it is supposed to have on me. It is so practical, it is the how of not worrying. When the worries creep in I am to worship the One who is all of these things, true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy! I am to meditate on Him, and to worship Him. So lately, when the worries and fears creep in I begin to sing praises to the Lord God. I still do the other things I know to stay calm, deep breathing, eating healthfully, and such, but I think the praise of God is what really clears the worry out of my mind. Sometimes instantly, sometimes it takes a while, but when I worship the Lord, my fears are calmed and my worries fade.

Worrying is of no use, it does not add anything to a situation, but rather takes away from trusting the Lord to provide, to heal, to save, to do His work. If I replace my worry and fear with praise for God, it refocuses my mind on what is most important, Him.

Will I ever worry again? Of course, I am human and still in my earthly tent. Do I know what to do when worry creeps in? Now I do! Praise the Lord!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Test results and surgery date

Praise the Lord! He is so good to me! I do not deserve His great grace and mercy but He bestows it on me because He is so good and He loves me so much!

I got my ultrasound results, no PCOS, nothing scary. I have a calcified uterine polyp but the Doctor is not concerned about it, especially since I am going to have a hysterectomy. Endometriosis and Adenomyosis are still suspected. Surgery will hopefully confirm.

I am so very impressed with the CEC (Center for Endometriosis Care). They have always answered my phone calls and emails promptly and answered all of my questions. They are kind and considerate! I wish all doctor's offices were like this!

Yesterday they called to set a date for my surgery, even though I thought it was going to be January they told me they had an opening on October 28th! I just about cried for joy! I had been crying to my husband yesterday that I didn't know how I was going to make it to January with all this pain. God is so good! They called again this morning to confirm October 28th as my surgery date. I am so excited! (That sounds so crazy to be excited to have surgery, but after being in pain for so long I am SO ready!)

So many of my friends told me they were praying for an earlier surgery date. I must admit, I didn't think it would happen. I was wrong, the Lord had other plans for me! I am so thankful for all who have prayed for and with me. I have spent so much time lately praying through all of this and I can see the Lord's hands all over it. Keep praying for me!

Archie and the boys are so excited and happy for me. They have seen how much pain I am in on a daily basis.

So now I have 5 weeks to find care for my boys for a week, get the money I need for my down payment/deductible, Archie will have to arrange for time off, I will need someone to care for our animals, figure out what I should stock up with in the freezer for easy meals, etc, etc. I am so trusting the Lord though! He is making this work, He will be glorified!

I cannot stop singing His praises! He is so good to me.

I love you Lord!

Monday, September 19, 2016

"...don't let my pain be wasted."

I will not start at the beginning with this post, but rather tell you where I am at now.

For the past 27 years I have suffered from pelvic pain. Over the past 7 years it has gotten worse. I had some reprieve for about 4 years but the past year it has steadily been getting worse and worse. Now I have pain to some degree daily. A day without pain is something I cannot imagine.

My pain ranges from a 2 (just little twinges that I can ignore if I keep busy) to an 8 (as bad as when I was in labor with my boys). Most days are in the 3-5 range on the pain scale.

I take medication for pain, but only when I feel like I really need it. I hate taking meds so I often wait too long to take them and then they don't work as well. I'm getting better about that though because I need to be pain free enough to take care of my children.

Some days I go to bed feeling OK, but then wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning in such horrible pain that I can't get back to sleep without taking medication. Some days I sleep OK but then when I get up and start my day the pain takes me back to bed. Some days I can't get to sleep at night because of the pain. Occasionally I am in pain at bedtime but when I get in bed it eases off enough to get to sleep.

Exercise has been harder in recent months. I was walking 25 miles a week earlier this year, but in the last couple of months I have had to cut back. I still aim for at least 20 miles a week, but sometimes it is less than 15 and I walk a lot slower than I used to. I was doing other exercise as well for a while, but now I stick with just walking.

About 6 weeks ago I started the process of getting my medical records reviewed by a Specialist to see if I am a good candidate for surgery. It is suspected that I have Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, and possibly PCOS. (If you don't know what these things are, google does). The only way to diagnose Endometriosis is to do laparoscopic surgery and visually identify it. I have known this for a long time, but until now, it didn't seem like something that was an option for me.

The Surgeon called me a couple of weeks ago and confirmed that he did believe I was a good candidate for the kind of surgery they do and he would get the office staff started on processing my paperwork and checking on what my insurance would cover. They will call me in a couple more weeks, and according to an email I received, they will likely schedule surgery for sometime in January 2017. In the mean time, the Surgeon ordered an ultrasound. I am currently waiting for the results. If I have Adenomyosis or PCOS there should be visible signs that would show up on Ultrasound.

Waiting is hard. I've waited a long time to be in a position where this surgery was a possibility. Now I am waiting for test results, then a surgery date, then for the actual surgery! Waiting, waiting, waiting.

I have worried about many aspects of all of this. How can I afford this? How can I manage the pain until surgery? How can I care for my boys when I am in pain? Am I going to be able to do the grocery shopping this week? Am I going to be able to make it to church in the morning?

When my youngest son, Silas, had cancer, I struggled with lots of fears. I struggled to know what and how to pray. I struggled to stay in the Word of God. At first I was determined to continue my Bible reading plan, but that only lasted about a month. My Bible reading became sporadic for the next year and a half or so. I continued to pray, but my prayers consisted mostly of "Lord, help me! Heal Silas."
In the 3 years since he passed away I have grown in my relationship with the Lord. I have been in His Word daily most of the time and my prayer life has improved greatly. I have become closer to Him than before. When my own pain started increasing about a year ago, and especially the past couple of months, I started to worry that I would fall away again. That I would stop having regular time in the Word of God, that my prayer life would suffer. However, I feel like I learned from my experience with Silas' illness, and the Lord is using that to help me stay focused during my own pain. I feel determined to stay in the Word, to keep praying, even when I am not sure how to pray. I know that it is not my effort that will keep me close to the Lord, but rather His continued work in me.

"God, don't let my pain be wasted. Use it to conform me to Your image." ~Linda Dillow (Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 2).

I have to cut back on my normal activities and learn to pace myself. I can't keep up with all I want to do, so I have to prioritize and let some things go. I can pray though, I can be in God's Word every day. I can read to my boys from the Word. I can, I should, I will - by the grace and with the strength of the Lord!

I pray for healing. I pray that I will be able to have surgery and that it will be successful. But if the Lord doesn't heal me, or surgery isn't successful as I would hope it to be, I am determined to praise the Lord. When it comes down to it, Jesus is all that matters. My life belongs to Him. Because of this, I know I will not always suffer, because He has promised me a home with Him in Heaven one day, where there is no more pain or suffering.

Blessed be the name of the LORD!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

About reading

If you can read, you can learn about anything! Reading is such a wonderful tool and I love reading! I am a slow reader but I enjoy it. In recent years I have mostly read non-fiction. Most of my reading consists of books, blogs, and websites about child rearing, homeschooling, nutrition, health, gardening, home care, care giving, etc. I also read the Bible regularly!

I was a "late" reader. Good thing I was homeschooled! My parents tried to teach me to read but it did not come easily. I remember at the age of 9 being so proud of myself for reading the word "ICE" at a convenience store all by myself. I could read a few easy words before age 11, but it was difficult and I would have to painstakingly sound them out. The Summer when I was 11 and a half years old was when it suddenly clicked. All of the sudden I just got it! I remember we were doing a reading program through the library and I was borrowing books to read and I could finally read them with little help!

2 years later, when I was 13, I took part in standardized testing. I tested at a 9th grade level in reading! In such a short time I went from probably a Kindergarten reading level to a 9th grade level! In my teen years I really enjoyed fiction as well as non-fiction, especially Missionary Biographies. I tell this story often, because I often hear other homeschoolers, and even parents of children in traditional school, worry that their child isn't reading yet at age 6, 8, or even older.

When my oldest son came to me at the age of 3 and BEGGED me to teach him to read, I was a little beside myself! I had always said I would not push my children to read before they were ready. I think my parents handled it well, they worked with me to learn the basics of reading, but I don't remember them ever becoming frustrated or pushy about it. I was determined to let my children learn to read when they were ready, but I wasn't ready for a 3 year old who wanted to read! At 3.5 years old I started teaching him to read using a book called "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons". By 5 years old he was reading at a 2nd grade level and now as a 15 year old he is a voracious reader! He will get 2 inch thick books from the library and devour them in a day or two. I have actually taken his books away at bedtime so he will sleep instead of read the whole night.

My second was much slower to read. He finally finished the same "100 easy lessons" book at age 11 and even then really did not read very well until age 12. Now at 13 he reads much better though still struggles some with unfamiliar words. He has always had a desire to learn to read, but it has been a struggle for him, much like it was for me.

It took my 3rd son a long time to see any value in reading! He just didn't see the point! Why read when someone else can read to you? Or why not just skip anything that involves reading? Yes, I know those are not good reasons not to read, but that was his thinking and nothing I said could change his mine. He completed the reading book at age 8, but had no interest in reading at all, unless it was to earn a Book-it Pizza. About age 10 he suddenly decided that there was a benefit to him to be able to read! You see, he wanted to be able to read the text in his video games! Now, about 6 months later, he is reading the text in his games, he is reading his Bible, he is reading over my shoulder when I text people (well, only when I let him), he is reading a lot!

This isn't a post about how children are meant to learn to read later than society tells us, although I am pretty sure that's true. Nor does it contain any information from studies done on children learning to read. It is simply a story about how my children and I learned to read, in hopes that others will be encouraged, especially those whose children are taking their time when it comes to learning to read.

Yesterday all three of my boys told me that one of the goals they each have for themselves is to read through the whole Bible. It may take some time (It took me 5 years the first time I attempted it!), but there is no greater reason to learn to read, than to be able to read God's Word for yourself.